Five consumer rights myths debunkedHow well do you know your shopping rights?

29 December 2015

online shopping

With the January sales underway, we’ve worked to debunk some common consumer rights myths and explain what your rights really are.

Consumers can face a number of obstacles around Christmas and in the January sales.

While any good retailer will take something back and refund your money without too much trouble, sometimes you could have a fight on your hands.

You can also find out more about your consumer rights on the Which? Consumer Rights website.

Myth 1: No refunds on sale items

Whether the retailer can do this or not depends on why the goods were on sale. 

If they were reduced because of a fault that was either pointed out to you, or that you could have been reasonably expected to notice before you bought it, then you could struggle to get a refund.

But if it was just on special offer or in the January sales, you are entitled to get your money back if it turns out to have a fault, to have been inaccurately described or not fit for the purpose it was sold for.

Myth 2: Mis-priced goods must be sold at that price

Which? found that half of people are under the misapprehension that if goods are mis-priced then the retailer has to sell it to you at the mis-advertised price.

If you happen to spot something that is incorrectly priced you don't necessarily have the right to buy it for that amount – as the price listed is legally defined as an 'invitation to treat' rather than a legally binding contract.

If you get to the till and the sales assistant notices, the retailer is within its rights to refuse to sell it to you for that price. This is also the case if you order an item online and the mistake is noticed before you have been contacted by the retailer to confirm the sale.

But, if your sale has been accepted, you can usually insist that the retailer sells you the goods for the price at which they were advertised as you have at that point entered a contract of sale.

Myth 3: If I change my mind, I’m entitled to a refund

If an item isn’t faulty you don’t get an automatic right to a refund if you bought it on the high street. The same applies if goods are the wrong size, unless they are clearly not the size described.

Fortunately, most shops offer their own in-store returns policies which usually allow for refunds or store credit.

Shopping online gives you more rights than shopping on the high street, as you have a 14-day 'cooling-off' period to cancel the order whether it's faulty or not, which begins the day the item is delivered.

Myth 4: I can’t do anything without a receipt

There is no legal obligation for shops to give you a receipt, let alone for you to keep it. Shops should accept any proof of purchase, such as a bank statement or credit card bill.

On the flip side, if you paid in cash and have not kept the receipt, you may have difficulty proving you bought the item.

Myth 5: It’s not our fault – talk to the manufacturer

It is the person who sold you the goods with whom you have made a contract, and against whom you’re statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act are enforceable.

They are therefore responsible for dealing with any problems, and not the manufacturer – although there’s nothing to stop you using the manufacturer's guarantee if you prefer.

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